PLM platform merge makes digital manufacturing an operational reality

Automation giant Siemens made news in 2007 when it purchased UGS, a leading provider of product life-cycle management (PLM) software and tools, in a $3.5-billion deal. The company—now known as UGS PLM Software, a division of Siemens Automation & Drives—has 7,400 employees worldwide and more than 47,000 customers in 62 countries.


Automation giant Siemens made news in 2007 when it purchased UGS , a leading provider of product life-cycle management (PLM) software and tools, in a $3.5-billion deal. The company—now known as UGS PLM Software, a division of Siemens Automation & Drives—has 7,400 employees worldwide and more than 47,000 customers in 62 countries. Revenues for 2006 were $1.2 billion.

The broad-based UGS platform includes the TeamCenter PLM application, and tools for product data management, CAD/CAM/CAE, and digital manufacturing.

The consensus interpretation at the deal's onset was that Siemens wanted to make digital manufacturing an operational reality.

“This concept is so important that many PLM providers have developed interesting ways to bring product design, manufacturing engineering, and production together,” says Julie Fraser, principal of Cummaquid, Mass.-based Industry Directions .

Digital manufacturing isn't necessarily a new concept to UGS. Chuck Grindstaff, executive VP of products with UGS, points out that, pre-merger, the company already facilitated the exchange of data and technology with automation providers, mainly through its Tecnomatix suite for part manufacturing, assembly planning, plant optimization, and more.

Now, however, the potential is for that exchange to occur on a greater scale, and in a more streamlined way. For instance, by incorporating PLC logic into simulation software, there is greater fidelity in the analysis of shop-floor systems and processes, and in the modeling of what the plant needs to look like for future production cycles.

Recent announcements of major upgrades show that UGS has kept its focus on customer needs. They also counter the somewhat occasionally expressed notion that Siemens bought UGS for its internal needs—i.e., “just to get a good deal on PLM software.”

The latest release of the UGS digital product development suite, NX 5, offers “Design Freedom,” as UGS calls it, by bringing together CAD/CAM/CAE tools in a single environment. Other enhancements improve the speed and efficiency of processing legacy data, design iterations, and mock-ups. Independent benchmarks point to greater workflow productivity.

Tecnomatix Version 8 includes a number of new and enhanced features to anticipate problems on the shop floor related to product design processes.

“The release of Tecnomatix 8.0 provides new levels of integration with TeamCenter and the entire UGS PLM solution set, continuing UGS' strategy of helping companies establish a single source of manufacturing knowledge,” says Dick Slansky, senior analyst for PLM at Dedham, Mass.-based ARC Advisory Group .

With the deal officially complete as of May, it's fair to ask how it's gone so far.

“Extremely well,” says Grindstaff. “Siemens has a well-oiled process for bringing together operating systems, but we also agree on strategic issues and leveraging the technology base.”

Market reception has been positive, too. “Siemens' reputation for longevity and dependability has opened new doors for us,” Grindstaff adds. “In the past, we were sometimes viewed as being in a transitional state.”

Two Siemens executives—Tilo Brandis, president, and Peter Bichara, chief financial officer—have joined UGS and will report to Tony Affuso, who remains CEO and chairman. Otherwise, business continues as before.

“We were already very lean, so there was no need for major reengineering,” says Grindstaff. “This deal is about expanding the portfolio and linking complementary solutions.”

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